Categories
Gothic Metal Metal Music

[Metal/Prog] Ghost – Opus Eponymous (10th anniversary review)

This week marked the 10th anniversary release of “Opus Eponymous” from the Swedish band Ghost, which is fronted by Tobias Forge (aka Papa Emeritus). My listening to this album was in a retrospective as I was introduced to the band through their third album “Meliora” with “Cirice” four years ago. As of today, I still consider their first album as their best album. Maybe for the musical style of it, maybe from the overall atmosphere from it.
It is personally an awesome album to listen to on a regular basis. It is a 9 tracks album that is short (34 minutes shy) but nicely crafted with almost no filler. It is a festival for the hear, with this rough guitar reminding me of the early age of progressive rock, coupled with a primitive sound of a MOOG synthesizer (with primitive not being used as a pejorative connotation here, more like in the idea of the original), giving this late-70s/early-80s feels to it.
We start with “Deus Culpa” which is an church organ, which introduce us quickly to “Con Clavi Con Dio” which has this particular trance effect on me, almost psychedelic. A very good track. “Ritual”, the third track, help us to chill out while navigating through the lyrics.
Then comes the piece of resistance. My favorite track. “Elizabeth”, the fourth track. Completely devoted to tell the tale of Erzebeth Bathory, a Hungarian princess which holds on the most cruel woman from the middle-age, rivaling with Vlad “Dracul” in terms of her lust for blood, including the infamous legend (or myth) of her youth beauty perpetuated by bathing in the blood of murdered virgins. It is fast-paced, with a very complementation of the guitars and keyboards. Listening to “Elizabeth” from the original demo tape and the finished product is showing the refined product that was already there, only perfected by professional recording in a studio. We resume the trip into the darkness with “Stand by Him” and “Satan Prayer”, also very good. The seventh track, “Death Knell”, is my second track. Again, a track already present in the demo tape that was rearranged, with these Black Sabbath bells. The eight track “Prime Mover”, is another of these tracks present in their demo tape. It has this nervous and menacing guitar tones, giving this malveolent atmosphere.
“Genesis” is the closing instrumental track of the album. A bliss of primordial MOOG synthesizer coupled with excellent proggy/psychedelic rock riffs, transitioning into that synthesizer waves resulting in this absolute epic epilogue to the album, reminding me of the early days of the 80s.
If you have to get introduced to Ghost, I would certainly recommend to do it by starting with their first album, remaining at the pinnacle of my library from this band.

Categories
Doom Metal Metal Music Uncategorized

[Metal] Black Sabbath – Black Sabbath (50th Anniversary Release)

Today marks the anniversary of the freshman album by Black Sabbath, released in February 13th (a Friday none of the less) 1970. This album is an important in the history of modern music, as it is considered as the milestone album, “the mother of it-all” of the whole metal genre, and to the doom metal sub-genre in particular.
50 years and this album still keep its freshness. It is also an album that kept its roots into its era, it has this psychedelic rock vibes, as an extension of Deep Purple and Led Zeppelin sound, yet also infused several key elements that will define the metal genre.
The album is about 39 minutes, and has different iterations depending of the re-issue and edition. The album I own is the North American CD version and I will make my summary out of it.
We are entering the album with the eponymous track “Black Sabbath”. Dang! Listening to it in a retrospective fashion, it has all the element of doom metal: slow pace, monotonous guitar, dark thematic. Ozzy is just awesome in this track, depicting and end of the world to it. It is dark, it is occult, but damn it is.

The second track “The Wizard”, for some reasons always makes me think of “Electric Wizard”, a flagship stoner metal band that is considered as representative of the stoner doom metal, the cousin of doom that runs on weed (it is all about weed with stoner metal). Kind of a more classical rock vibe, but an okay song for me.
The third track on the edition I own is “Wasp/Behind the Wall of Sheep/Bassically/NIB”, a quatuor of proto-metal songs, blending old tunes of their time but also experimenting some features that will define the metal genre, including the drumbeat (deviating from the R&B, and more into a synchronized and regular tempo),  heavier guitar riffs, and inclusion of melodic riffs.
The fourth track, “Wicked World”, is interestingly the one that has the closest sound of modern heavy metal in its backbone and its structure, with a very complex solo guitar played to Tommy Iommi, that will become a staple for almost every metal song to come.
The fifth track “A Bit Of Finger/Sleeping Village/Warning”  is also a good track, starting wiht an awesome guitar solo before the drums and the bass take over.
Today was also a big revelation about the mysterious figure of the original album cover. (https://loudwire.com/black-sabbath-cover-woman-black-figure/). A mysterious figure that haunted and led to the widest speculations and conspiracies. The woman in question is named Louisa Livingston. After all these years, the album is keeping its freshness.
It is so much fresh then it perfectly blends with modern cover, for instance my favorite being the live cover of it by Within Temptation, giving it this modern feel in a circular fashion, as performed in their Black X-Mas concert few years ago:

 

Categories
Melodic Death Metal Metal Music Uncategorized

[Metal/Melodic Death] Insomnium -Heart Like A Grave (90%)

Finally, the last review of my streak of overdue reviews. The last one in the list is the Finnish melodic death metal band Insomnium. I got into them late in the game through their album (and fairly controversial album within the community) “Winter’s Gate”.
What I like about the band is their ability to perfectly blend the brutality of death and powerful melodic, that give me the sense of mental escapism and serendipity of the Finland wild, green and white vast lands of wilderness.
This is an album containing 10 tracks (+2 bonus tracks, iTunes version) spinning about 70 minutes. We got introduced by “Wail of The North”, giving us this floating feeling, that melodies I have been talking but this one mostly driven by pianos and keyboards, followed by fast guitar riffs. It nicely serve as a primer for the official opening track “Valediction”. This is where the “attach your seat belt” sign should be blinking because we start brutally, only to get free flying within 30 seconds. Enjoy the video clip:

“Neverlast” brings us more to classical Insomnium stuff, but that does not a downgrading. We are still flying on the awesomeness with the band, again very good track. “Pale Morning Star”, we keep on a perfect streak with the band and this perfect blend of heavy riffs and melodic that makes your soul escape into beautiful Finnish landscapes. “And Bells They Toll” is my favorite song of the album. The quintessential track that makes in my opinion the band being the flagship of the whole Finnish Melodic Death Metal scene. “The Offering” is in contrast, tuning to heavier and faster riffs, making it more aggressive and yet enjoyable, rapidly followed by “Mute is My Sorrow” and “Twilight Trails” that in my opinion almost acts as a bridge between “Winter’s Gate” and this album.
“Heart Like A Grave” brings us more down to Earth and simply beautiful to listen, my second favorite of the album by its enriched sensory experience. Watch the video, close your eyes, focus on the auditory stimulus and enjoy this mental escapism.

“Karelia” is a melodic ballad, 100% instrumental track that closes the album magnificently.
The two bonus tracks are good. The first one, “The True Morning Star” is an instrumental acoustic guitar track that is okay but does not feel we are missing much. The second one, “Karelia 2049” is much more electronic, giving place to the keyboards. Oh boy as I love the prime electronic sounds of the early synthesizers, I like that track giving a much colder and electric sound to the homonym track.
With this album, Insomnium is showing us that they are reaching their pinnacle of their artistic talent, over 10 years in the refining and improving, giving us this perfect album that is a pleasure to listen and has been spinning almost daily in the last two months. Rarely we are given a chance to hear a nicely blended form of melodic death metal that embrace this “Fire and Ice” analogy. If I have to summarize the beauty and wilderness of the Finnish metal scene, that would be using this album I would showcase. Finland gave us one of the best symphonic metal band (Nightwish), one of the best melodic doom metal band (Swallow The Sun) and just offered us one of the best melodic death metal band in the presence of Insomnium.

Categories
Gothic Metal Metal Music Uncategorized

[Metal] Lacuna Coil – Black Anima (80%)

October was also the same month of the release of the latest album by Lacuna Coil “Black Anima”. At the helm, we have Cristina Scabbia and Andrea Ferro as usual keeping the ship exploring and wandering over the years. It is a 14 tracks album (iTunes version, that is inclusive of three bonus tracks in the total I provided) spanning over 59 minutes of music.
We get into it with “Anima Mera”, a cryptic song that is pretty interesting and setting sort of the whole album. The second track, “Sword of Anger” is pretty okay but nothing really hooking much, as well as the third track “Reckless”. For some reason, I find this track pretty unattractive to my ears and even would sound like one of the weakest of the album. The band has a videoclip, so you can judge by yourself. The videoclip is indeed much better and is deeply inspired by Dario Argento’s “Suspiria”:

Fortunately things become interesting for me “Layers of Time”, the fourth track. Tha’ts the Lacuna Coil stuff I was looking for, that’s a song I really like that it became an earworm through these last two months. Again a videoclip to share, so enjoy the listening of that track:

The fifth track “Apocalypse”, is also a decent track and straight into the band direction. “Now and Never” reminds me a lot like “The House of Shame” of their previous album, so good stuff again from the band. “Under The Surface” is also pretty good overall. “Veneficium” is probably my second favorite track. It starts with Cristina starting a capella into a sort of chorale, following by Andreas lyrics, some of the heavy stuff that has something connecting the old fans to their old stuff, it has this wavy feeling that is so pleasant to my ears. “The End Is All I can See” is a bit strange but very fascinating to my ears. Another good track of the album.  “Save Me”, the 10th track, is pretty okay but in my opinion nothing too pretencious, something more like alternative metal. “Black Anima”, the last official track is another good one, with Cristina in my opinion being the best of her in this album, with hitting the highest notes she can.
What about the three bonus tracks? “Black Feathers”, the first of the three extra tracks, is a damn good one, I would like to have this one in the regular album in place of some weaker songs. Same for “Through The Flames”, very good one. “Black Dried Up Heart”, the last track (and the last of the bonus tracks) is also pretty decent and wished was part of the regular album tracklist.
As this album marks about 20 years of discography of the band, where does it stand? I would say still pretty well. The band went back to their heavyness a scale higher, they also embraced darkness at a higher level than their discography of their second decades. There are some good songs, and some weak songs. It is not the crush album, it takes some times to get into in and appreciate. It is overall a pretty good album and love to see the band after 20 years still being dynamic and produce some quality albums, where other bands crashed on the shores or simply let the wrenched sea become their graveyard. My only regret was missing on their North American tour that was not clearly advertised and that’s honestly disappointing. Lacuna Coil is one of these bands that performs well both in studio and live and wished I could finally see them live after this incessant game of cat and mouse.

Categories
Melodic Death Metal Metal Uncategorized

[Metal] The Agonist – Orphans (90%)

Thanksgiving is finally here, meaning for me the end of the frenetic fall semester and able to take some time on my blod and foremost write reviews on the albums I have purchased and listened during my grants and manuscript writing . Because of the glut of albums to reviews I will keep them sweet and short.
Among the pile of albums, came the latest one from the Canadian metal band The Agonist titled “Orphans”. After facing some issues I would not enter into details, it finally came out mid-October and available on the Bandcamp webpage of the album.
Third album with Vicky Psarakis at the helm, I have to say this is an album that marks a maturation of both the band and from Vicky. It is brutal, harsh, bombing and pretty homogenous just like I like them!
It is a pretty short album (45 minutes) but sweet albums with 10 strong tracks. We start into it by ramming the big door with “In Vertigo” that for some reasons reminded me some tracks of the band from the early days with Alissa. The band makes us a gift of a videoclip for the song, so listen and enjoy:

A pretty good introduction track that ramps up towards to track 2 “As One We Survive”. Here comes the cannons of Navaronne, some of the firepower of the band in combining the brutality and the melodics, while Vicky show her able to steer both cleans and growls in a same track.  My favorite part? The second half of the song, this crescendo of riffs bringing an increase in tension as the music become heavier until it peaks. The brutality of the song is nicely translated into the videoclip of it, check it out:

The third track is “The Gift of Silence”, keeping up into the frenzy of the second track, this time bringing the pace to a much faster pace, also a damn good song. And another clip for your eyes and ears:

The fourth track is a continuing streak of good track from the band, with “Blood As My Guide”. What I can say? It is the gift that keeps on giving with good stuff, with special mention on Vicky singing a whole verse in Greek (I would assume from her Greek heritage), if anyone can give me the translation of the words that would be great. I did my best to guess using my French to do some bastardized translation but nothing speaked much as a  tragedy unforlding than listening to Vicky singing.
The rest of the album is also damn solid with “Mr. Cold”, a bit much chill than the rest;  “Dust To Dust” which also quite good only got me into it by the second-half of the song (I hate the first-half, like the second-half); “A Devil Made Me Do It”, a sick as hell track by its sheer speed and brutal drums ; “The Killing” which is pretty good but kind of left hungry; “Orphans” (9th track) that is my second favorite song of the album, starting soft and building momentum as we go through. “Burn It Down”, the 10th track of the album, concludes this almost perfect streak from the band.
What I can say? Man I love to see how the band came together over the years by constantly refining their artistic direction and getting this unique sound making them standing out from the crowd. Vicky certainly reached a point of maturation making her a definitive asset in the band. This winning formula is certainly the one that should and must make this band becoming a flagship for the Montreal metal scene, and the Canadian metal band. It is so good to see the band unleashing itself after navigating tumultuous waters in the last few years. The band came out of it stronger than ever and ready to conquer new lands.

Categories
Metal Power Metal Uncategorized

[Metal/Power Metal] Sonata Arctica – Ecliptica (20th anniversary)

Today marks the 20th anniversary release of the first full-length album “Ecliptica” by the Finnish power metal band Sonata Arctica. Power metal, never a metal genre was making so much polarization within the community. Some love it, some hate it. I found it is interesting that the divide espouse the Atlantic rift with the North American continent predominantly driven towards death metal and its sub-genres (hardcore, metalcore, grind core), whereas Power Metal being really a popular feature in Europe.
What I like about Power Metal? Ultra-fast riffs, high-speed drums, and this whole adrenaline pumped out by embracing lyrics. And Sonata Arctica counts in my favorite Power Metal bands, in particular when it comes to their old stuff. And how does “Ecliptica” holds on after 20 years? Awesomely well. With certain cynicism, I would say the old SA stuff ages much better than their new stuff.
The album is short (47 minutes), but damn intensely packed, with certainly a very strong foundation with 10 tracks holding overall very well. We get into it with “Blank File” that quickly sucks us into an intense and fast tempo giving the tone: it will be loud, it will be fast and it will be epic. The second track, “My Land” is kind of more relaxed and more like a power ballad. But the third track, “8th Commandment”, oh boy, thats some densely packed steroids right here. Super-fast riffs, super-fast pace, with very engaging and dueling keyboards/guitars. The very essence of Sonata Arctica. Give it a try and listen to it:

One power metal track like this one over 10’000 death metal songs, anytime. Where death metal songs sounds mostly the same, power metal gives you this energy and complexity never experienced. Every time this song is played in a concert, it is such a pleasure.
The fourth track, “Replica”, gives us some resting and offers us another of these nice power ballad, one of these sing-along songs that makes SA concerts great. “Kingdom for a Heart”, the fifth track, is good but for some reason not putting me into ecstasy.

Then comes “Fullmoon”. The Sonata Arctica Power Ballad, the stuff you want to sing-along in concert. It is an epic power ballad that I have rarely seen equaled by other bands I have listened.

“Letter to Dana” is a beautiful power ballad story about this love story that never occurred to happen and ends up tragically.  Yes, the writing is a bit cheesy, a bit goofy but thats the charm of power metal.

“Unopened”, “Picturing the Past” and “Destruction Preventer” nicely help finish the album by alternating power ballads and by power melodics making the album a perfect streak.
Now there are two versions of the albums: the original one and the revisited one published for the 15th anniversary. I personally prefer the original from the keyboard perspective. The revisited is kind of lacking flavor and punch of the original one. Please grab that version, you will thank me later.
Sonata Arctica, like it or not, is certainly one of the flagship of Finnish power metal and a must-have band to have in your power metal collection. It epitomizes for me what makes power metal a much better experience than death metal: epic, fast-faced, bombastic listening experience that brings this adrenaline rush that makes you feel much better after a listening session. I wish Sonata Arctica could look back at their early years and bring back this energy in their musical direction.

Categories
Metal Symphonic Metal Uncategorized

[Metal/Symphonic] Epica – Design Your Universe (10th Anniversary)

Today marks the 10th anniversary release of Epica fourth album “Design Your Universe” on October 16th 2019. What can I tell about this album? Epic album from Epica, certainly the best album from their discography, it is standing on the pinnacle in my opinion. It is also hard to tell, as we are splitting hair with their discography, a constant quality-crafted work by Mark Jansen. like a Rembrandt paint every single time.
This is an album made of 14 tracks, totaling 79 minutes of bold and heavy symphonic metal. It starts with an overture named “Samadhi” which is here as a launching ramp for the second track “Resign To Surrender”. And I hope by that time you are all buckled up, becasue the rollercoaster ride of awesomeness is just starting. That brings us to the third track “Unleashed”. If you have to summarize the awesomeness of the band or resume Epica to a song, that would be it, give it a spin and listen:

Excited about Epica following “Unleashed”? Wait, there is more! If someone would have asked me, “Do Epica has a wall of death song?” I would have said nope, until listening to the fifth track “Martyrs of The Free World”. I remember it while attending their concert in Dallas in 2016. Mark splitting up the crowd for a big and beautiful wall……of death!
Heavy tunes, heavy-loaded lyrics on denouncing terrorism and indoctrination.  Thats the signature stuff from Epica. My favorite of the album! We continue our musical rollercoaster ride with “Our Destiny” that is more mellow than our previous listening experience but only to allow us to enjoy the voice of Simone Simmons. The seventh track, “Kingdom of Heaven” continues where we left with “Martyrs…” but brings us to a brigther side.
To help us recover from this rollercoaster ride, the “Price of Freedom” is an interlude that allows to transition to the second half of the album that is as epic as the first half. Track 8 is “Burn To A Cinder”, good stuff. “Tides of Time”, the ninth track of the album is like the slow tide, calm and washing us ashore, a breeze of calm before the tempest. That comes us with the 10th track “Deconstruct”. My second favorite of the album, some level of awesomeness packed. “Semblance of Liberty” is another fast-paced one, and has the famous Georges H. Bush “read my lips!” quote at the end! “White Waters”, the 12th track album is the calm song, this one feature Tony Kaiko from Sonata Arctica! But Mark let the plat de resistance to us with “Design Your Universe”, the opus magnum of the album. Dichotomic, starting with a crescendo, and blowing our mind away. The track of the album!
“Incentive” is the last one of the album, quite good but felt a bit too soft and lacking flavor after coming out of “Design….”.
What can I say? If you dont have it yet, rush to your record store as Epica re-issued it for the 10th anniversary. Get this album!

 

 

Categories
Doom Metal Metal Music Uncategorized

[Metal/Doom] Paradise Lost – Faith Divides Us – Death Unites Us (10th Anniversary)

Yesterday marked the 10th anniversary release of Paradise Lost “Faith Divides Us – Death Unites Us”. It is the 12th album of the British doom metal band from Halifax, part of the Holy Trinity of doom-death genre with Anathema and My Dying Bride.
For me, this album has a special place as it was my first album from the band, it is how I got introduced to the band, by a random pick from a record store. It has the doom feelings and writing, topped with the brutality of death and singing by Nick Holmes and a pinch of melodic riffs from Gregor Mackintosh. For the fans, it was a return to the source of the band, after being artistically exploring through that decade.  It is a 10-track album that is almost 46 minutes long.
We start with a bang with “As Horizons End”, having this feel of Games of Thrones at the beginning and comes in Nick Holmes aggressively, which is for me a departure of the classic doom I have been used. It is an explosion to the hear, full of melancholy and rage, with the with the remarkable guitar solo in the second half of the song. This is the song that got me hooked on Paradise Lost. One of my favorites of the album, if not the favorite track. The second track, “I remain”, is straight in the continuation of the “As Horizons End”, with excellent lyrics. Again an almost perfect run here. We keep on the continuum with the third track “First Light”. “Frailty” breaks with the cohort, and start with a crescendo tone quickly taken by fast riffs and breaks with the melodic tones of the three first tracks. Another favorite of mine.   The fifth track “Faith Divides Us – Death Unites Us” was in my first impression an okay song, but somehow get much more amplification when you watch it with the official videoclip. The psychological violence in it (it is interesting how being held and having your hair cut can have an uneasy feel, directly feeling compassion with the victim), coupled with the depressing lyrics makes it a very powerful song. Judge it by yourself:
https://youtu.be/9BONcpuDcrc

The rest of the album is pretty good, but I kind felt less enthusiastic “The Rise of Denial”, “Living With Scars” and “Universal Dream” are okay songs, but not really got too excited. However, the “Last Regret”, the 8th song of the album is damn good song, well-written and well composed. It is very dark, very depressing and that’s when you feel the power of Paradise Lost.  It is well seconded by “In truth”, the closing song of the song, that has the signature trait of the band.

Overall, it is very good album of Paradise Lost, some saying this return to the source was a wlecome move and I can imagine if I was a first hour fan, I would have welcomed that move.

Rare thing but noteworthy to be noted, Century Media, the label of the band graciously offer the streaming of the album on Youtube, see the link below:

If you have not heard about Paradise Lost, and want something between doom and death metal, you should give a spin. This record hooked me on the band and let me discover their remarkable discography.

Categories
Gothic Metal Metal Music

[Metal/Gothic] Lacuna Coil – In A Reverie (20th anniversary album)

Today marks the 20th anniversary of the release of the first album by the Italian gothic metal band Lacuna Coil “In A Reverie”. My introduction to Lacuna Coil occurred few years later than this album via their album “Unleashed Memories” that a friend lended me over, as I was deep into “The Gathering” back in that days (college years).
Until then, the Italian metal scene was pretty obscure for me, with the Italian music scene mostly represented by some pop artists such as Eros Ramazzotti or Laura Pausini that were spinning on the French airwaves, and in a more sarcastic manner their predominance of the Eurodance.
Lacuna Coil band line up changed a lot over the last 20 years with the exception of the core of the band: Cristina Scabbia and Andrea Ferro. Both made me a very powerful singing duet that is until now pretty unique in the gothic metal scene: both sing clean, no “Beauty and The Beast” duet here. That what makes them unique, as well as their artistic style that has this unique “Lacuna Coil” flavor.
“In A Reverie” is a 9-track album covering about 43 minutes, with two distinct covers: the original cover in which both Cristina and Andrea are posing on their natural clothes, the second one (that I like more) printed for the re-issue of this album. Overall, the album is pretty homogenous, very consistent between tracks, so I will not talk much about it tracks by tracks but rather give my overall feelings in general.
However, there is one track that comes out of the ordinary, that really sounds my favorite. “To Myself I turned”. If you have heard their first EP named “Lacuna Coil”, the whole song is a revamped version of “Falling”, in a better and louder version. It was already a nugget in the EP and Lacuna Coil forged it into a song that is in my opinion the signature of the band.
The album is still spinning on my playlist, 20 years later still holds up decently. What I really liked about the songs were the melancholically lyrics that were just right for me, in a period of time that was emotionally and mentally tough, a period of transition between leaving your teenage years and growing up as an adult. Lacuna Coil was part of that transition and helped cope with emotions that I could not express, that I could not catharsize to other. Since that album, the band has been experiencing a constant change in their line-up, being experiencing various styles (mostly going into a more alternative/mainstream form of metal) but still remains a staple band, one of the few flagship of the Italian metal scene in my library.
Seeing them on tour is next in my bucket list, and I guess my best bet is to see them in Europe, as the band rarely comes abroad and tour in the US (or if they do, in a very few select dates).

Categories
Female-fronted Metal Metal Music Symphonic Metal Uncategorized

[Metal/Pop] Within Temptation – Resist (70%)

After five years of fairly blackout period from the band, following a lot of introspection and need to solve private issues, Within Temptation finally released their new album “Resist” on February 1st. A lot of mystery was on, a lot of speculation too as Sharon launched about a year ago a solo pop album “My Indigo”. How would the album sound? Will they go back to their roots? Will they continue in the direction taken with their previous album “Hydra”? Well, the release of “The Reckoning” kind of gave a flavor and honestly failed to impress me. However, I wanted to give my respect to the band and bought the album (standard edition, the $5 extra for the instrumental tracks and radio edit are in my opinion overpriced). Well, I am gonna tell you, this has been the most divisive album I have to listen because it is not an easy thing to downgrade a band you have been cherished all these years. Imagine you have admiration for what you think is certainly one of the best band you have ever heard, only to realize now that band have been setting the quality bar so low that it is basically feels like any soup served on the FM station (I only listen to the FM radio when I take my wife car, because I forget most of the time my iPod classic in my car. Seldomly taking my wife car).
Thats how I feel and somehow translated in some interviews by the band. You feel the band is exhausted, is running out of juice. Yet, the band is trying to reformulate itself as a new image, a kind of futuristic sci-fi that I honestly don’t dislike, if the music was better. WT has been betting high on taking full sail on the pop-electronica scene, leaving the original fans pretty dry and bitter. I would be honest, I can gut half of the album and not even regret it. But in the same time, there are some tracks that although being really watered down when it comes to metal (maybe the drums are the only thing left) that have still catchy songs. And Sharon shows us again how talented she is. I can guarantee to you she will eat any of the pop singers addicted to auto-tunes with a swift snap. In the realms of meow-meow pop singers, Sharon is the queen. This is an album holding 10 songs, totaling about 48 minutes.
Lets first get rid of the annoying tracks. They failed to impress me and sounded really what I would listen to a FM radio. Basically an auditory torture. “The Reckoning”, “Holy Ground”, “In Vain”, “Firelight” and “Mercy Mirror”, you are out. About more than half of the album made of fillers.
Now lets focus on the interesting tracks. Let’s start with “Endless War”. At first, it sounds like the opening sequence of an Arabic “mussalssal” which is for me a torture for my ears, but it gets better with Sharon kicking in. And it’s good to hear Sharon singing, with some echoes of the past with some musical arrangements reminding of their previous albums mixed with electronic tunes. “Raise Your Banner”, the third track, is okay and maybe of the few that sounds like Symphonic Metal to my ears. “Supernova”, the fourth track is certainly my favorite, the one that grew up on me over listening. Sharon shows us that she can kick, even with the use of electronica and make some catchy tunes.  Listen to it, and tell me you are not captivated by the catchy tunes:

“Mad World” is the next favorite, with a nice mix of both metallic and electronic giving this industrial vibe. Another one in which Sharon is excelling into giving us catchy tunes. “Mercy Mirror” is a fine one, with some metal elements, sounding more familiar to what we expect from the band. “Trophy Hunter” is the third favorite one of the album, by its industrial tunes and the catchy tunes.
Conclusion? Well I will be honest. Sharon has been talking about how the band was exhausted, tired, bored. The mean half of me would say “time to pull the plug and let go” and let members of the band grow and expand their own musical garden. The nice half of me would say “well the band is rebranding themselves with a new look, new logo more palatable to millennials”. By entering the realms of rock/electronic pop, they surely come with a added bonus and advantage because they were at some point a AAA band in the scene and would eat any meow-meow bands out there as my son eats his cereals for breakfast.
Yet, I feel bad and disappointed to have been served such a half-baked cookie after 5 years. Yes, there are some chunks in it that are yummy but the rest of the cookie tasted bland and lacked originality. Not even mentioning the anemic US tour that is basically ignoring the whole southern half of the US (the closest I can get is Denver, which is a whooping 7 hours drive), which adds an extra layer of salt on the wound. The disappointment left by the album makes me really reconsider investing into a trip to Denver. At least, they could have added Dallas to the tour (14 gigs only in the whole North America, including Canada). I guess this the time what I will let their boat sail, me on the docking pier, while swiping my tissue.